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19
Jan

‘Battlefield 1’ DLC adds aerial-only battles and more next month


DICE and EA have shared much more of what Battlefield 1’s new “Apocalypse” DLC entails, and it’s good news if you prefer to be a fighter ace than fight in the trenches. The expansion arrives in February, and its highlight is a new Air Assault mode where dogfights and airships rule. Appropriately, there are two air-only maps (London Calling and Razor’s Edge). Think of it as you would the Starfighter Assault mode in Battlefront II — it’s about scratching the itch for players who jump into vehicles at every given opportunity.

The add-on also brings a counter to those aircraft in conventional modes (the AA Rocket Gun) and a slew of new maps built around more of World War I’s larger battles, such as Passchendaele, the Somme and Caporetto. Six more guns and two new aircraft also promise to add some variety.

You’ll need a Premium Pass to see what “Apocalypse” entails. That’s a bit of a pain when some of Battlefield 1’s extras have been available for free, but this definitely isn’t a small addition. If you play regularly but thought things were getting stale, this could keep it fresh for a while longer.

Source: Battlefield

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19
Jan

Apple Debuts Redesigned Web Interface for iOS and Mac Apps


Apple recently introduced an all new design for App Store apps on the web, with a new, cleaner interface that puts screenshots and critical information front and center.

You can see the new redesigned interface by accessing or searching for any iOS or Mac app while on the web. With iOS apps, you’ll see a clear notice that you need to open up the App Store to download the app, while with a Mac app, you’ll get a notice letting you know you need to open up the Mac App Store.

App listings include the app’s name, icon, and screenshots, along with information like star rating, ranking, purchase price and whether or not there are in-app purchases.

While an app’s description used to be the first thing that came up when accessing an app on the web, it’s now listed underneath screenshots, which, as 9to5Mac points out, are iPhone X screenshots. App Store webpages also include a listing of what’s new, select reviews, app size, and a list of related apps.


The change to the way apps are displayed on the web comes following the launch of iTunes 12.7, which entirely eliminated the built-in App Store for iOS apps. With no App Store in iTunes, iOS apps can only be downloaded directly on an iPhone or iPad, rather than downloaded on a Mac and then transferred to an iOS device.

When making the change, Apple didn’t really alter the way apps were displayed on the web, which had the potential to be confusing. The new look is much more streamlined and makes it clearer how apps can be downloaded on an iOS device.

Because of the elimination of the App Store in iTunes 12.7, some users have decided to continue using iTunes 12.6.3, which does include App Store functionality. Apple made iTunes 12.6.3 available for its educational and business customers who need iTunes to install apps, but it is also available to the general public.

Tag: App Store
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19
Jan

Wirecutter’s best deals: It’s a good day for fitness and outdoors gear


This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read their continuously updated list of deals here.

Yi 4K Action Camera + Waterproof Case

Street Price: $200; Deal Price: $153

Clip the on-page coupon to get 10% off our budget action cam, the Yi 4K Action Camera (in Night Black) with an included waterproof case, dropping the price of this bundle from $170 to $153. While we saw this action camera lower during Black Friday/Cyber Monday, this is still a great price for it. The street price of this action camera and case has been around $200, but we’ve seen a number of recent discounts on both the cam and cam/case bundle. Right now, with the applied coupon, it’s actually less expensive to buy this bundle than it is to buy the camera alone. Shipping is free with Amazon Prime.

The Yi 4K Action Camera is the budget pick in our guide to the best action camera. Ben Keough wrote, “The Yi 4K Action Camera’s surprisingly low price and newness to the market might scare some buyers away, but they’d be missing out on a great deal. This camera delivers competitively crisp 4K footage and includes all the same resolution and frame-rate options as the Hero5 Black, along with a well-designed touchscreen interface and a slick mobile app. However, Yi cut a few corners to keep costs down: A waterproof housing will cost you extra, and when the camera is inside the housing, you can’t use that beautiful touchscreen—you’ll need to use your phone to change settings.”

Coleman Sundome 6 Tent

Street Price: $95; Deal Price: $73

If you’re in the market for a tent for occasional use in decent weather, the Coleman Sundome 6 is a great option. We’ve commended its value at a sub-$100 price, but it’s now cheaper than we’ve ever seen it at $73. Only the navy color is available at that price, but the green is available for just $6 more if you have a strong color preference. Grab this while available as this is part of a sale on a selection of Coleman items and it’s unlikely to last.

The Coleman Sundome 6 is our budget pick in our guide to the best tent for family and car camping. Kalee Thompson wrote, “The Coleman Sundome feels smaller than and uses inferior materials to our favorite Eureka Copper Canyon 6 tent. But its square footprint, ample windows, and functional fly make it a good choice for occasional campers who want an inexpensive tent that’s easy to put up and looks and feels reasonably nice to camp in.”

Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat 20″ x 39″

Street Price: $40; Deal Price: $32

The jet black, burgundy and caramel brown colors of the Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat in the 20″ x 39″ size are all down to a nice price of $32. The sand beige color is a few dollars cheaper at $29. The street price of this mat has traditionally hovered around $40 but has varied a little depending on the color, and while we have seen a low of $31 for the colors now at $32, we’ve never seen lower than the $29 price. This deal likely won’t last long, so if you’re in the market for a budget standing mat, consider getting one soon.

The Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat is the budget pick in our guide to the best standing mats. Kevin Purdy wrote, “If you want to spend less because you stand infrequently or in shorter rotations, or you’re using a standing mat for other short tasks in the kitchen or laundry room, we recommend the Royal Anti-Fatigue Comfort Mat. Of the sub-$50 mats we tested, the Royal provides the most similar pressure-relieving, heel-supporting feel to the Imprint CumulusPro. Though the Royal’s narrow shape doesn’t provide as much standing depth as either of our other picks, it allows office chairs to roll deeper underneath a desk than most standing mats.”

Garmin Vívosmart HR+ Fitness Tracker – (Refurbished)

Street Price: $80; Deal Price: $65

This refurbished model of the Garmin Vívosmart HR+ is on sale for $65. It’s a new low price for this fitness tracker (our former top pick) in refurbished condition, beating our previous low of $70. Although $65 isn’t a huge discount from it’s street price of $80 for a refurb, a new Garmin Vívosmart HR+ still has a street price of about $120. This refurb comes with a 1-year factory warranty and free shipping. The sale ends January 25.

The Garmin Vívosmart HR+ is the previous top pick that we still speak well of in our guide to the best fitness trackers. Amy Roberts wrote, “The Vívosmart HR+ has everything you’d expect from a good tracker but adds onboard GPS tracking and activity auto-detection, both of which performed above average in our tests. It still includes all the standard fitness tracker functions we’ve come to expect: step and stair counting, distance traveled, calories burned, and sleep statistics. But its long battery life (4 to 5 days without GPS) and full waterproofing (down to 50 meters) give it an edge. It will stay charged almost four days longer than the Gear Fit2 if you don’t use the GPS, and unlike most Fitbits and the Samsung, you can wear it in the shower after your workout.”

Because great deals don’t just happen on Thursday, sign up for our daily deals email and we’ll send you the best deals we find every weekday. Also, deals change all the time, and some of these may have expired. To see an updated list of current deals, please go to thewirecutter.com.

19
Jan

NASA tests small nuclear reactor that could power a habitat on Mars


Everyone from Elon Musk to Donald Trump wants to send a manned mission to Mars in the not too distant future, but there are quite a few problems that need to be solved before we can achieve that goal. A major one is the issue of energy. Long-term stays on Mars, or anywhere else for that matter, will require lots of energy, as will the trip back to Earth. However, loading a rocket up with all of the necessary fuel won’t work — we would need too much. So a way to create fuel on the go is a must and researchers at NASA, Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Department of Energy announced today that they’ve conducted successful tests of a system that can do just that.

Kilopower is a small nuclear reactor that can generate a reliable power supply. Versions range from 1 kilowatt — enough to power a basic toaster — to ten kilowatts and Kilopower project researchers said in a Space.com article that around four or five of the latter would be needed to power a habitat on Mars. “Kilopower’s compact size and robustness allows us to deliver multiple units on a single lander to the surface that provides tens of kilowatts of power,” Steve Jurczyk, associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, said during a press conference today.

Testing of the Kilopower system has gone smoothly so far and in March, the team plans to conduct a full-power test. To hear more about how Kilopower works, check out the video below.

Via: Reuters

19
Jan

How to appear offline on Xbox One


We’ve all been there — after a long day at work, you come home to relax with a game on your Xbox One or Xbox One X, only to receive notification after notification from players looking to chat or have you join their party. Xbox Live enables players from around the world to communicate, but that isn’t always what we want to do when we use the console. For those of us who wish to play games undisturbed, the Xbox One has a few different settings that allow you to avoid getting pestered, even when you’re connected to Xbox Live. We have everything you need to know about how to appear offline on Xbox One.

Method 1: Appear offline to everyone

If you want to appear offline to everyone, including any friends, you can do so in just a few steps. Once you signed into Xbox Live, hit the Xbox button on your controller to be taken to the quick menu.

Next, scroll all the way to the left until you highlight and select your profile image. Click it, and you will see a drop-down menu with a few different options — select “appear offline” and you’re ready to game without distractions!

Alternatively, you can also change your online status by going to your full profile. From here, the menu in the top-right corner will give you the option to appear offline. You will also see another option here labeled “privacy settings.” That is where the next method comes into play …

Method 2: Customize your online status

Want to appear online to your friends, but not to random strangers? You can affect who sees your online status by changing the privacy settings for your Microsoft account. Go to your Xbox One settings and you will find the “account” option on the menu to the left. Once you select that, choose the “privacy & online safety” tile from the menu to the right.

Next, you will be taken to a page with a few preset privacy options for different types of players. The “adult defaults” option will automatically make your online status viewable to all users, regardless of whether or not they are your friends. The “teen defaults” and “child default” options limit online status to friends. These choices come with additional restrictions around viewing mature content online, though, so we suggest choosing the “custom” option if you are just looking to keep the noise down.

Once you’ve chosen “custom,” select “view details & customize” to be taken to the “online status & history” page. From here, hit the drop-down menu under the “others can see if you’re online” option. You have the choice to allow everyone to see, just your friends, and no one at all, if you’re a complete hermit. This page also gives you the option to change who can see what you’re watching or listening to but those who can’t see your online status will not be able to see these activities.

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  • Wake up on time with the best alarm clock apps for Android and iOS




19
Jan

The Pipe is a futuristic new instrument that looks like a cyberpunk saxophone


From Apple Macintosh originator Jef Raskin’s love of the Renaissance-era cornetto to virtual reality pioneer Jarod Lanier’s mastery of various Asian wind and string instruments, there is a long history of engineers also being brilliant musicians — often using obscure or unusual tools to make their music. Ukraine-born engineer and musician Vlad Kreimer is the latest person to fit into that category, with an innovative mouth-controlled instrument called the Pipe that is capable of transforming a person’s voice into a drumbeat or synth.

“I’m a composer of electronic music, and I always wanted to use my voice, but I’m not a great singer,” Kreimer told Digital Trends. “The biggest problem for me was trying to sing with lyrics. I can write either vocals that have meaning to them but no rhythm, or I can write a good melody for singing, but no meaningful lyrics. I’ve found, in my experience, that the most important part of singing is expressing emotions and feelings. So instead I began using my voice as a lead instrument. Soon I realized that what I actually wanted was to sing like a synthesizer, but I needed to expand the sound of my voice beyond a conventional vocal performance. Eventually, I decided to add special FX processing to a mic to make the voice transformation complete. For me, the most attractive part of the Pipe is that I can make a whole performance with just it.”

He’s not kidding. In addition to a range of vocal distortion algorithms (currently there are eight, although this will soon expand past 12) that can be used to alter the player’s voice or breathing sound, the Pipe can also be used to create its own lighting, resulting in the “whole performance” Kreimer was after.

As the founder of SOMA Laboratory, Kreimer now plans to mass produce musical instruments of his own design — of which the Pipe is just one. The device consists of a handheld element and small communication box with left and right output jacks. It is available in black and white options and will be priced, he says, somewhere between 400-450 euros ($490-$550), plus postage. Final pricing will be announced at a later date when all the manufacturing processes are sorted out.

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  • Naked but never nihilistic, Starsailor charts a course for indie soul




19
Jan

A hero drone manages to rescue two teenage swimmers in choppy surf


We’re always eager to recognize the heroes who risk their lives to save others, but the hero in this story isn’t interested in our praise. Drones, after all, aren’t particularly moved by flattery or gratitude, but they are useful when it comes to saving swimmers in Australia. As originally reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, a drone played the role of levitating lifeguard and saved two swimmers who were struggling against heavy surf in New South Wales.

The dramatic rescue took place on Thursday, January 18,  and represents the first application of drone technology to protect swimmers. Drones were initially introduced to coastal lifeguards when the NSW government pledged $16 million to a shark-mitigation strategy. But clearly, the drones have additional uses as well.

The two distressed swimmers managed to get a distress signal to NSW lifeguards, and it just so happened the supervisor Jai Sheridan (the 2017 NSW Lifeguard of the Year) was controlling the drone. Sheridan responded immediately, flying the unmanned aerial vehicle to the swimmers’ location within minutes, and deployed help. The drone dropped a flotation device into the water, helping the teenage swimmers.

“The Little Ripper UAV certainly proved itself today, it is an amazingly efficient piece of lifesaving equipment and a delight to fly,” Sheridan told the Morning Herald. “I was able to launch it, fly it to the location, and drop the pod all in about one to two minutes. On a normal day that would have taken our lifeguards a few minutes longer to reach the members of the public.”

In fact, reports suggest that the drone, in Sheridan’s expert hands, was able to complete the mission in just 70 seconds. A lifeguard, on the other hand, would likely require around six minutes to rescue swimmers in a similar situation.

The mission certainly serves as a proof point for the drone’s maker, Westpac Little Ripper. As the company’s CEO Eddie Bennet noted, the mission “clearly illustrates the benefit of this cutting-edge technology in such a time-critical emergency situation.” Just last month, the NSW government announced a $430,000 investment in drone technology as part of a trial on the north coast of the country. Now, it certainly seems as though that decision was a strategic one.

As Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro said, “It’s quite incredible to see that the NSW Government’s investment in this technology has already resulted in two people having their lives saved.”

Editors’ Recommendations

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  • A drone you can’t crash? It’s finally here, thanks to AR and smart glasses
  • Drone-owning Brits face clampdown as government moves to make skies safer
  • These new Parrot drones could save lives and crops
  • Watch a hybrid drone break records by hovering for more than four hours




19
Jan

Looking for online privacy and security? Here are the best VPNs for Android


Maybe you want to hide your location to get U.S. Netflix in another country, or maybe you’re connecting to a public Wi-Fi network and you don’t want to expose any sensitive data, or perhaps you’re just concerned about being snooped on in general. The online world is rife with threats to your security and privacy, especially since Congress voted to quash regulations that would prevent broadband internet providers from selling your browsing history without your consent.

By using a VPN (virtual private network) service, you can ensure that all of your internet communication is encrypted and potentially protected from prying eyes. You can also use it to connect to servers in different countries and sometimes fool websites such as Netflix to get access to the best shows and movies. However, not all Android VPN apps are created equal. There are countless services on offer, so it can be tough to find the best VPNs for Android.

You should also consider what you’re signing up for. You’re placing a lot of trust in the VPN service you choose, and some of them have questionable policies when it comes to privacy. If the service is being offered for free, it’s important to stop and think about the business model. Are they selling your data, or exposing you to other threats? To give just a couple of examples, Hola was found to be selling users’ bandwidth, and VPN Defender is owned by analytics company App Annie.

It’s important to do a little homework on the service you choose, read up on the privacy policy, and decide what you’re comfortable with. All services on this list supports OpenVPN protocol, which is the most secure option on Android.

You may also want to check out the best Android security apps or read up on our Android security tips.

NordVPN

We’ve tried out a number of different VPN services, but our current favorite is NordVPN. It combines decent speeds and reasonable pricing with an easy-to-use interface that includes an automatic connection option. There are busy periods, especially on the U.S. servers, but it never fails to connect. We’ve found speeds to be reliable and consistently fast enough for full HD video streaming. In addition to Android, it works on Windows, MacOS, and iOS, and you can use the service simultaneously on up to six different devices. There are more than 2,800 servers spread across 59 countries.

NordVPN is one of the most well-respected VPNs for a number of reasons. The company’s no logging policy, military-grade encryption, and the fact that the service is based in Panama — away from U.S. or European monitoring — makes it a very popular VPN service. In its own words: “NordVPN never logs where you go on the internet. If anyone asks, the best we can do is shrug our shoulders, and we like it that way.” There’s also a kill switch, so your connection is automatically cut to prevent exposure if the VPN should fail.

The service costs $12 per month, but there are frequent discounted offers if you subscribe for a longer period. Right now, for example, you can get one year for $70 (around $5.75 per month), two years for $80 (about $3.30 per month), or three years for $100 ($2.75 per month).

Download now from:

Google Play

VyprVPN

Another fast and reliable service, VyprVPN is provided by Golden Frog, a company that has a solid track record when it comes to online privacy and security. It owns and runs its own networks independent of third parties, doesn’t share your data with anyone, and only keeps logs of IP addresses, connection times, and bytes used for 30 days. It offers 70 server locations spread across the globe, support for 256-bit encryption, and a proprietary technology called Chameleon, which masks the fact you are using a VPN service. Chameleon is ideal if you’re looking to stream content from another country. VyprVPN also has a kill switch feature.

The Android app is incredibly easy to use. You can just tap connect to find a local server, choose the fastest server, or browse the list if you want to specify a particular country. You can see basic info on your connection, check a speed graph, and see a connection log. The nice thing about the VyprVPN app is that you can also configure it to automatically connect based on your preferences — such as any time you join an untrustworthy network — which is perfect for public Wi-Fi protection. The service is based in Switzerland.

The standard account costs $10 per month or $60 for a year, and allows three simultaneous connections. We recommend going for the Premium account, which is $13 per month, or $80 annually. Doing so will grant you a few extra features and support for five simultaneous connections. You can test the service for yourself with the free 3-day trial.

Download now from:

Google Play

ExpressVPN

With ExpressVPN, you have a choice of nearly 100 different locations around the world. The service is also generally reliable and touts excellent 24/7 customer support, along with support for 256-bit encryption. The company doesn’t log traffic data or browsing activity, and the app is straightforward to use. It provides a list of viable locations to connect with, and it usually works pretty well, allowing you to connect within seconds. There’s also a home screen widget for quick connections, and you can have up to three connection simultaneously.

ExpressVPN allows split tunneling, so you can route some of your device traffic through the VPN, but let the rest access the internet directly, if you so desire. However, it lacks a kill switch feature. The service is based in the British Virgin Islands.

You can try ExpressVPN free for 7 days. After that, you’re looking at spending $13 per month, $60 for six months, or $100 for a year. The feature set is the same across the board, though, and each option comes with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Download now from:

Google Play

TunnelBear VPN

If you want something cute and stylish, then TunnelBear is for you. The USP here is simplicity in a friendly, bear-themed package. There is minimal logging, and TunnelBear promises to never track what you do online, to not log your IP, and to not share your data with any third party. It also supports 256-bit encryption, has servers in 20 countries, and offers fairly quick speeds.

The Android app is super-cute and easy to use, if a little light on data. You can see server locations on a map and tap to have your bear tunnel to them. There’s also a handy widget for the home screen. There is a kill switch feature, and TunnelBear also accepts Bitcoin. The service is based in Canada.

You can get 500MB of free data every month for a single device. The normal subscription costs $10 per month or $60 for the year, which gets you unlimited use on up to five devices simultaneously.

Download now from:

Google Play

F-Secure Freedome VPN

You’ll find a decent range of servers in Europe, North America, and Asia with Freedome, which currently covers more than 20 countries. Finnish provider F-Secure promises not to log your data, and allows you to create an account without registering. It doesn’t allow BitTorrent use in many countries, including the United States and United Kingdom.

The Android app is pretty stylish and couldn’t be simpler to use. Fire it up, and you’ll see a big button that you can tap to turn the service on and off. There are some stats beneath. You can change location, and that’s about it. There’s no kill switch function. F-Secure is also an antivirus provider, so it offers other apps and services to guard against viruses, malware, and dodgy websites.

You can try the app for free for five days. After that, you’re looking at spending $50 per year for three devices, $60 for five devices, or $80 for seven devices.

Download now from:

Google Play

Update: We shortened the list, updated screenshots and details, and picked an overall best VPN for Android to make your choice a little easier.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Protect your privacy with the six best VPN for the iPhone or iPad
  • Popular VPN provider TunnelBear jumps into password management with RememBear
  • Here’s how to set up a virtual private network (VPN) on your Xbox One
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19
Jan

What is Ripple?


Although bitcoin is still the king of the cryptocurrency hill, there are many pretenders to its throne, and some of them are quite different. One of the most intriguing in its diversion from several crypto-norms is Ripple, a much more centralized cryptocurrency in a very decentralized space.

What is Ripple? It’s still classed as a cryptocurrency, but the way it was founded and the way it operates are very different from some of the others out there. That’s why if you’re thinking of investing in Ripple, you need to do your research first and what better place to start, than right here.

Want to know what Ethereum is all about too? We have a guide for that as well.

Ripple explained

Ripple is the catchall name for the cryptocurrency platform, the transactional protocol for which is actually XRP, in the same fashion as Ethereum is the name for the platform that facilitates trades in Ether. Like other cryptocurrencies, Ripple is built atop the idea of a distributed ledger network which requires various parties to participate in validating transactions, rather than any singular centralized authority. That facilitates transactions all over the world, and transfer fees are far cheaper than the likes of bitcoin. Unlike other cryptocurrencies, XRP transfers are effectively immediate, requiring no typical confirmation time.

Ripple was originally founded by a single company, Ripple Labs, and continues to be backed by it, rather than the larger network of developers that continue bitcoin’s development. It also doesn’t have a fluctuating amount of its currency in existence. Where bitcoin has a continually growing pool with an eventual maximum, and Ethereum theoretically has no limit, Ripple was created with all of its 100 billion XRP tokens right out of the gate. That number is maintained with no mining and most of the tokens are owned and held by Ripple Labs itself — around 60 billion at the latest count.

Even at the recently reduced value of around a dollar per XRP, that means Ripple Labs is currently sitting on around $60 billion worth of the cryptocurrency (note: Ripple’s price crashed hard recently, and may be worth far less than $60 billion by time you read this). It holds 55 billion XRP in an escrow account, which allows it to sell up to a billion per month if it so chooses in order to fund new projects and acquisitions. Selling such an amount would likely have a drastic effect on the cryptocurrency’s value, and isn’t something Ripple Labs plans to do anytime soon.

In actuality, Ripple Labs is looking to leverage the technology behind XRP to allow for faster banking transactions around the world. While bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are built on the idea of separating financial transactions from the financial organizations of traditional currencies, Ripple is almost the opposite in every sense.

Backed by banks

You may have heard a lot of cryptocurrency investors and financial commentators discussing the idea of regulation. While we don’t think that’s of any meaningful concern, many worry about banks cracking down on bitcoin and the like. That’s even less likely to happen with Ripple, as it’s backed by some of the world’s major financial institutions. Santander, UBS, American Express, RBC, Westpac, and more, all have a hand in its operation and proliferation.They can even charge their own specified fees for completing transactions. That control is the biggest differentiating factor for Ripple.

In many ways, this isn’t wholly surprising, as blockchain technology holds a vast number of benefits for companies that are able to employ it effectively. However, backing a cryptocurrency like Ripple is certainly an outlier and is something that needs to be understood by potential buyers and sellers, because it gives those financial institutions a much greater level of control over Ripple than most other cryptocurrencies out there.

Where bitcoin, Ethereum, and similar are entirely decentralized, backed by thousands if not millions of global miners, meaning that nobody has any real control over the network, Ripple’s nodes are handled by these financial institutions and Ripple Labs itself. Those independent servers don’t have to provide proof-of-work calculations like bitcoin, the nodes simply validate transactions themselves — much like traditional banks do.

When that’s combined with the fact that no new XRP are being created, and that the existing numbers’ circulation is strictly controlled, it leads many to have concerns about Ripple’s future.

Cold snap

All of that control of the Ripple network that’s held by particular entities means that they have some abilities which are unique to this sort of cryptocurrency. The one that has detractors concerned the most is the “freeze.”

“The XRP Ledger gives addresses the ability to freeze non-XRP balances, which can be useful to meet regulatory requirements, or while investigating suspicious activity,” the Ripple guide to the feature reads. While that is something that is commonplace in traditional banking, many would argue it is the complete opposite of the true purpose of cryptocurrencies: to remove that regulation and oversight.

Effectively, Ripple nodes can severely limit XRP wallets on an individual basis, or all wallets associated with a particular node. This was demonstrated in 2015, when original Ripple Labs founder Jed McCaleb attempted to sell more than a million dollars worth of Ripple. Ripple Labs purportedly persuaded a Ripple node, Bitstamp, to reverse the transaction.

Although there are elements to the story which suggest McCaleb breached a contract with the sale, the fact that the freeze was possible at all, with centralized authorities controlling the currency’s owner’s ability to transact with it as he wishes, has others concerned for Ripple’s future. If the founding company, exchanges, and banks can control XRP to that extent, is it worth trading in Ripple at all?

At the very least, it’s important to be aware that where other cryptocurrencies give the owners near-complete control over their coins — as long as you use the right wallet-type — Ripple has much greater oversight and middle-man control.

Editors’ Recommendations

  • Go ahead, pass laws. Governments can’t kill bitcoin, even if they try
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  • What is bitcoin? Here’s what you need to know about it
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19
Jan

You can use Google’s new Fuchsia operating system on the Pixelbook


Google has developed its new operating system, codenamed Fuchsia, for well over a year. Up until now, it’s been difficult to actually run the experimental project to get a sneak peek, but the recent addition of Pixelbook support has offered up a new way to take it for a test drive.

Beyond a lock screen and login form that will look relatively familiar to anyone who has used Google’s services, there are actually quite a few working components in the current version of Fuchsia, according to Ars Technica.

The Google bar at the bottom of the user interface is said to work in a limited capacity, although it’s rife with placeholders for the time being. It can search through local files and will offer a web launcher if you type in a URL.

The web browser is unfinished and won’t render many sites, although it’s, of course, able to display the Google homepage with no issues. There are a few other apps that work but they are said to be quite ugly and, in some cases, barely functional. Included are a video player that doesn’t play video (likely due to the lack of an internet connection), a music player that crashed, a straightforward file manager, an early iteration of a chat app, and some graphical demos.

While it’s rather impressive to see Fuchsia running on Pixelbook hardware at all, it’s clear that the laptop isn’t quite up to the task. Crashes are apparently frequent and the device is said to run very hot, even when something as simple as the lock screen is being displayed.

Google is remaining tight-lipped when it comes to Fuchsia and has yet to acknowledge its existence officially, so it’s difficult to get a read on its long-term plans for the project. Given that a big focus seems to be delivering a consistent user experience across computers and mobile devices, we can perhaps expect to see it factor into the company’s future hardware strategy.

Anyone brave enough to dive into the esoteric Fuchsia installation process can grab the source code here, but be warned: It’s not for the faint of heart.

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